Thursday, 28 June 2018

Hottest June Ever?

It's certainly been a hot few days.
Temperature Records 25-27 June 2018
On both Monday and Tuesday the temperature managed to exceed 30°C (86°F) but on Wednesday it only managed 27.4°C which maintains a record for my weather station in that I've never recorded three consecutive days above 30°C. It means I've had to amend my top twenty hottest days table to take Tuesday into account.
As we approach the end of the month it is obvious that we've had a very warm June and I'm sure we'll soon be told that it's the "hottest ever June" or the "hottest June since records began". So in anticipation I've looked up what I think are the hottest Junes using the Central England Temperature Record.
Data from Hadley Centre Central England Temperature Record
The current value of this year's June average is 16.0°C provisional to the 26th of the month. That puts it into 7th place tying with 1775. With hot weather forecast to the end of the month it is probably going to head up this table but will it finish up hotter than 1846. For comparison my weather stations average for this June is 16.3°C up to the 26th of June.

The hot and sunny weather means there's lots of watering to do at home and at the allotment. It's important to make sure all the plants in the greenhouse and summerhouse get watered or this happens.
Begonia Sutherlandii
This poor plant growing, or was growing, in the summerhouse until my watering regime missed it out. I'm not sure that it will recover but I'll move it to a shaded spot in the greenhouse and see if it sends up some new shoots. Fortunately it's not the only pot of begonia sutherlandii we have. It should look like this-
Begonia Sutherlandii
I'm now being much more careful to make sure all our plants get watered especially our other begonias.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Hottest Day of the Year

Monday was the hottest day of the year as we enter what is forecast to be a hot week. The temperature reached 31.4°C making it the fourth hottest day I've recorded.
Temperature Record for Monday, 25 June 2018
Below is my list of the top twenty hottest days since 2010.
Already three entries for this year but those high temperatures in April and May are now looking as though they might drop out of the table if this current hot spell of weather does indeed continue for a few days.

The allotment has gone into full summer mode as our old gazebo was erected to provide some welcome shade.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Drought Goes On!

It looks like June is going to finish up as the driest June I've recorded following on from the second driest May. The last few days have been sunny and breezy not at all what we want when the ground is already rock hard through lack of rain.
10 Forecast for Ossett from
Next week is forecast to be very hot and sunny as we move towards the beginning of July and there's no rain in the forecast at all. That's not strictly true as 0.1mm is indicated for 29 June but I think that's only there to show where rainfall would appear if there was any. It looks like watering on the plot will be the main job of the week; with temperatures next week forecast to nudge 30°C (86°F) it's going to be hot work.

Watering the plot has become a major undertaking and is slowing progress down at getting other jobs done. We needed to get some more beds ready for planting up but the best looking of the ones remaining to be dug over looked like this.
There was no way my little tiller was going to turn over this baked hard ground so we decided to give the bed a good soaking, leave it overnight, and then see if it could be dug over. The ground is so dry that not even weeds have attempted to germinate. There were a few roots of wick grass but there was no way of digging them out so they got watered too. As if we hadn't enough watering to do we were actually watering weeds.
After a good watering the bed was covered with weed control fabric in the hope of keeping some of the moisture in overnight. The bed was uncovered the following afternoon and I set about digging over the bed.
It was hard going, but I could now get my spade into the ground, and once dug over it didn't look much use for sowing or planting crops in. It certainly wasn't going to be broken down into a decent tilth without putting up a bit of a fight. I reckoned I hadn't got much to lose by trying my tiller on it.
The tiller found it hard going too but this time it was doing the hard work instead of me and after a good number of passes up and down the bed the lumps were broken down into something resembling soil. At least we should be able to sow or plant into this bed now.
It looks like we'll have a least a couple of weeks to wait before we get any rainfall. If next week turns out to be as hot as forecast I think some parts of the plot will really start to suffer.

Monday, 18 June 2018

First Veggie Harvest

Sunday saw us harvest our first vegetable crop of the new season. We decided it was time to cut the largest head of our calabrese Aquiles.
Aquiles was part of our early brassica collection from DT Brown which arrived as plug plants at the end of March.
Early Brassica Collection 29 March 2018
The plug plants were potted on and spent the next month in the greenhouse growing on before, they were transplanted into their final positions in the allotment.
They were planted out on 29 April 2018 and were covered with environmesh to prevent damage from wood pigeons. Since then they've needed plenty of watering. It's almost two months since they were planted out and under average conditions I'd have expected around 100mm or 4in of rainfall. However, this year it's been very dry and since they were planted we've had 23.8mm (0.94in) or around a quarter of what we might expect. At one stage in the middle of May I wasn't at all convinced we were going to get much of a crop off them but over the last few weeks they've definitely put on a bit of a spurt.
 Cabbage - Regency
Cauliflower - Helsinki
Our cabbages are almost ready for cutting but the cauliflowers look like they will be a week or so before they are ready. Hopefully, they'll be ready as the calabrese is finishing.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Wow! Rained Off!!

Something unusual happened on our visit to the plot yesterday. It rained! After all the hot weather and the forecast of thunderstorms, which never happened here, it took one of the coolest days of the month for a thunderstorm to occur. A few spots of rain as a warning to take cover and then it tipped it down for a few minutes. We took shelter in the shed and watched the rain do some watering for us.

Mixed in with the rain were a couple of rumbles of thunder but the storm only lasted for a few minutes.
Temperature & Rain Rate Records for 16 June 2018
I don't know how the rain at home compared with that on the plot but at home it amounted to 4.2mm (0.17in) with the fastest rain falling at 45.4mm/hr (1.79in/hr) the highest rainfall rate this year. At that rate it's probably as well it didn't last too long. The months total rainfall is now 5.6mm which is still the driest June I've recorded at this stage of the month.

It was just as well that I didn't leave picking our strawberries until the last job of the day. I finished picking these as the first few drops of rain began to fall.
Strawberries - "Cupid" & "Cambridge Favourite"
Any rain is better than no rain at all for the garden and plot but yesterday's downpour won't have been enough to convert our hard compacted ground into more workable soil.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

A Last Word On Storm Hector

Overnight Friday into Saturday morning we had what counts as rainfall these days here as 0.2mm (0.01in) fell at sometime in the night. I couldn't tell there'd even been a shower at breakfast time and I did think it was a bit odd that my rain gauge was showing some rainfall, even if it was the smallest amount it measures. A closer inspection of our hostas confirmed that we had indeed had a light shower.
We paid a visit to the allotment on Friday to do some watering and check for storm damage. I was surprised where the worst damage had occurred. I expected our cardoons to be the worst hit but they escaped relatively unscathed. The worst damage was to our newly planted out leeks as the wind had blown the weed control fabric onto the seedlings. The wood chip holding down the fabric had been blown off leaving the fabric at the mercy of the gale force wind.

The video below shows the extent of the damage to our allotments and cherry tree in the garden.

Friday, 15 June 2018

A Brush With Storm Hector

After weeks of lots of calm sunny weather the spell was broken with storm Hector. He brought us some unusually strong westerly winds for June in off the Atlantic. However, the one thing Hector didn't bring was any much needed rain.
Temperature & Wind Speed Records for 16-May to 15-June-2018
It was our third windiest June day over the last eight years but probably seemed worst after a long spell of excellent weather. There was plenty of sunshine with the gale force winds, probably the worst combination for our garden and allotment in its already very dry state.

In the garden Hector managed to blow over our pot grown cherry tree.
Cherry - "Stella"
It's the first time it's ever been blown over. The fleece around the ripening cherries probably acted a bit like a sail helping to topple the tree but I expect the tree to be safe from gale force winds through the summer months at least. The fleece isn't there for decorative purposes as the woodpigeons start devastating the young leaves as soon as they start to emerge and any ripening cherries are picked off by our resident blackbirds. It's very simple really "no fleece - no cherries" so the fleece will stay around the tree whatever the weather.

I’m guessing that our cardoons at the allotment will be looking a bit battered. We'll have a trip down to the plot to inspect for any damage today. The wait for some rain goes on!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Planted Up As The Dry Spell Continues

Despite the best predictions of the weather models for showers or thunderstorms over the last week or so it's remained stubbornly dry apart from the odd bit of drizzle from low cloud. 
Temperature & Rainfall 14 May - 13 June 2018
It's the driest spell I've recorded from the beginning of May through to 13 June with a miserly 19.2mm or 0.76in of rainfall. The only year that comes close to this is 2010 which managed 30.3mm (1.19in) over the same period with a very dry May producing just 10mm (0.39in) of rainfall but by this stage of June we'd had 20.3mm or 0.80in.

The warm weather trend is also continuing into June, following on from the warmest May I've recorded, the first two weeks of June have continued the trend resulting in the warmest June I've recorded at this stage of the month.

On the plot it's been very slow progress sowing and planting. The dry ground has made digging and ground preparation both slow and difficult. As more seeds or plants get into the ground it means more time is spent watering and less for ground preparation, sowing and planting.
Our leeks were finally planted out yesterday and we felt with that completed it meant our beds were finally planted up. To be honest until we get a reasonable amount of rain we've no ground suitable for cultivation. All our empty beds resemble concrete rather than soil. Our leek plants weren't the strongest looking specimens but they've got plenty of time to grow on before they are ready for harvesting. One plant that hasn't minded the conditions is our cardoon. It must be deep rooted and finding plenty of moisture and with no damaging winds so far it's looking rather spectacular.
That statement should be enough to bring on some wet and windy weather!

Friday, 8 June 2018

Extra Mini Tomato Plants

The "sort of" fine weather has continued over the last week. However, with the breeze predominantly from the east or north east it's meant we've had lots of cloud coming in off the cold North Sea. Some days this has cleared by lunchtime resulting in a sunny and warm afternoon but on other occasions it's persisted all day and it's been a bit on the chilly side.
 Temperature & Rainfall Records 09 May - 08 June 2018
The one thing we haven't had is any decent rainfall so visits to the allotment involve lots of watering as well as trying to get beds dug over and planted up. So far this spring and early summer is turning out to be quite challenging on the allotment.

All our tomato seeds this year were sown on the 22 April, a little bit late even for us, but this was due to the cold start to spring. All our seeds germinated well and were soon potted on out of their seed trays. We had four varieties Sungold, Shirley, Tigerella and Red Robin. The first three varieties are all now moved on into their final growing positions and are looking just like I expect them to.
The final variety Red Robin has taken me a bit by surprise. Whilst the other three varieties grew on quickly in the greenhouse, Red Robin didn't make much progress at all and didn't look at all like it needed moving on into a larger pot. I had intended this variety to be grown on in pots in the greenhouse as a dwarf variety but clearly I didn't read the blurb in the seed catalogue so closely. It's supposed to have an excellent flavour even though it produces a mini tomato plant suitable for growing on a kitchen window sill.
Tomato Plants - Red Robin
As you can see they're not yet much more than a few inches high but already starting to produce tiny flower buds. It's going to be interesting to see how big they finally grow and how many tomatoes they produce. I'll have to start reading the catalogue descriptions a bit more closely in future.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Still Waiting For Rain

The immediate threat of any thunderstorms seems to have passed and we missed them all. The weather's not as good as it was in May with lots of cloud coming in off the North Sea and stubbornly refusing to clear through the day.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 06 May - 06 June 2018
We've had no rainfall to speak of now for over four weeks. However, the cloud is thick enough to produce very light drizzle at times, especially overnight, and this seems to be just enough to allow the slugs and snails to munch their way through our seedlings each night.

We've had a couple of days away leaving the plot and garden to fend for themselves. We visited Kenilworth Castle and the Severn Valley Railway. Judging by the flow in the river Severn somebody's been getting more than their fair share of rain.
River Severn at Arley (02 June 2018)
Back at home it was a case of getting some more ground dug over so that some tomatoes, winter squashes and brassicas could be planted out. 
This bed had been soaked the evening before but was still looking very dry after it was dug over and broken down with the tiller ready for planting. At least we're now managing to harvest something other than rhubarb.
No amount of watering seems to be able to do the same as a decent drop of rain. There doesn't appear to be any forecast over the next few days but the thoughts are that this pattern of weather will break up as we head towards the middle of June with a more Atlantic pattern of weather bringing more unsettled conditions and hopefully some proper rainfall.

Finally, and a little bit later than normal due to our trip to the West Midlands a summary of May's weather.
As you might have guessed May turned out to be the warmest I've recorded. I've seen some reports that May 2018 was the hottest on record but from the Central England Temperature Records I'm sure that record still belongs to May 1833 with an average temperature of 15.1°C or 59.2°F.